‘Taking back control: illusions of autonomy’ with Pat Riordan SJ

‘Taking back control: illusions of autonomy’ with Pat Riordan SJ

8th March 2018

In the context of the seminars ‘A Post Truth Word- Are We Losing Our Minds?’, Fr Path Riordan SJ will present the topic ‘Taking back control: illusions of autonomy’.

The expressed desire to ‘take back control’ resonates with many people who feel left out by many developments usually labelled globalization. Politicians in many countries including the UK find a ready audience with people who for one reason or another feel powerless in the face of economic and political forces. The promise to take back control of our borders, laws and money offers a prospect of deliverance from such forces. But how realistic is the prospect? How well founded is the promise? Autonomy and Sovereignty are the values usually invoked in the argument in favour of greater independence and control. But are they illusory? When the problems that must be faced by any country today are no respecter of national borders can any country alone succeed in dealing with them? The problems posed by climate change, the downside of technological development in the phenomena of cybercrime, other forms of transnational crime such as the drug trade, people trafficking, child sexual abuse, piracy, kidnapping and extortion, proselytising ideologies and religions are just a few of the challenges facing a country which it cannot manage alone. Maintenance of world peace, human rights enforcement, and agreed measures for dealing with migration and the fallout from wars and catastrophes require that the community of states work together in some forum, whether it be the United Nations, or NATO, or the WTO. Cooperation with neighbours on an agreed voluntary basis depends on commitment, and commitment brings constraints and limitation on the freedom of action. Total control is illusory. How much control can a country relinquish without losing its identity and autonomy? That is one way of asking the question, but it prejudices the discussion by relying on the assumption that giving away (some measure of) control is a diminishment of sovereignty. Might it be the case that ‘less is more’? Could the relevant question be instead ‘to what extent can we increase our autonomy by sharing it with partners? Can our sovereignty be enhanced by being pooled with the sovereignty of neighbours?’ The failure to examine this possibility has meant that the rhetoric of taking back control of our borders, laws and money, has purveyed an illusory prospect. The public has been deceived. Exposing the deception requires an exploration of the meaning of sovereignty and its intrinsic limitations. This talk will undertake this task and outline the relevant themes.

Doors open at 19:00, talks 19:30-21:00

Suggested donation: £10

Book your place: welcome@hurtadocentre.org.uk

About the speaker:

Dr Patrick Riordan SJ is an Irish Jesuit. He is Fellow for Political Philosophy and Catholic Social Thought at Campion Hall in Oxford, having taught political philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London since 2002. His current research interests are the Common Good, Religion in Public Life, and the Philosophy of Justice. His latest book, Recovering Common Goods (Dublin: Veritas) is a popular presentation of arguments developed in his academic works, Global Ethics and Global Common Goods (London: Bloomsbury, 2015) and A Grammar of the Common Good: Speaking of Globalization (London: Continuum, 2008). He has also published articles on Justice, Human Dignity, Natural Law, Business Ethics, and Just War theory in the context of terrorism.